Cades Cove is a broad, verdant isolated valley, surrounded by mountains in the Tennessee section of the Park. The valley was home to numerous settlers before the formation of the National Park. Today Cades Cove is seen from an 11 mile one-way loop road and is the single most popular destination for visitors to the park, attracting more than two million visitors a year, because of its well preserved homesteads, cabins, churches, a grist mill, scenic mountain views, and opportunity to see wildlife. The road to get there is also very picturesque, snaking along beside the Little River, offering beautiful views of the mountain stream and the surrounding mountains, enhanced by numerous banks of mountain laurel along the way. We saw a number of wild Turkey, one of which posed nicely for me. One striking historic building is the cantilever barn, lower left. The barn has the distinct characteristic of having an extra wide upper loft area that hangs over the lower level of the barn. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park usually receives about 80 inches of rainfall each year, making it one of the rainiest places in the U.S., and the high level of rainfall and humidity would cause crops to rot. The cantilever would funnel the rainfall on the roof away from the storage cribs of crops in the upper level of the barn, and open spaces between the cribs kept the structure ventilated allowing air to circulate to further reduce spoiled inventory. Live stock could also find shelter underneath the overhang from severe weather or hot, sunny days.
Unfortunately, it has become so popular, that at weekends and throughout the summer months, the traffic around the loop becomes extremely congested, especially when bears are seen, and people stop to take photos and block the road! We saw two bears today - I took a very blurred picture of one from the car. The other was further away, and although we were able to stop at that point, it was too far to get a decent picture. Roger was able to come and look at the churches, which were close to parking, but several of the cabins were up to half a mile from the road. It took us so long to make progress along the loop, we had to give up on stopping to see some of the later buildings, as it was time to drive back to the cabin, and go out for a meal at a nearby restaurant, which was very good.
Step count 9,822